Second Independents win of season for WTCC ace MacDowall
Britain’s Alex MacDowall took the second Yokohama Independents Trophy win of his rookie season in the FIA World Touring Car Championship with a star performance in round 19 at Suzuka in Japan this morning, Sunday, 21st October, to maintain his bid for top three finish in the class standings.
Adding fifth place in the Independents Trophy during round 20 on his first ever visit to the Far East, the Carlisle ace goes into the next event in China a couple of weeks from now only five points shy of third place in the class championship standings – having edged into the top three after race one. He has also moved up into ninth place in the overall WTCC driver standings.
“I’m really happy to win again”, said the 21-year-old Cumbrian, “We had really good pace here this weekend, like we have at the last few circuits we’ve visited, and we were very close to the works Chevys in qualifying and with race pace. It’s just frustrating the way the reverse grid races work, you couldn’t overtake so we ended up losing what we’d gained in the championship in the first race.”
Alex was in tremendous form from the off, posting the third fastest Yokohama Independents Trophy time in the brief test session on Friday, 19th October, at Suzuka East Circuit and then comfortably running inside the top 10 in both practice sessions before really turning up the heat in qualifying.
Posting the fourth best lap overall, the fastest of the Independents drivers, in the opening run, the Bamboo Engineering driver easily progressed into the all-important second period and took a richly deserved round 19 Yokohama Independents Trophy pole position with a superb best lap of 53.206 seconds (151.76 km/h) – fourth quickest overall again, a mere 0.3 seconds shy of the outright pole.
With confidence justly high ahead of the opening encounter, Alex didn’t disappoint and although slipping behind the vastly experienced Gabriele Tarquini through the first turn he remained a constant threat to the Italian and utterly dominated the Independents class in his Chevrolet Cruze.
Setting the fastest Independents lap of 54.122 seconds (92.70mph), quicker than the best managed by ‘works’ Chevrolet driver Rob Huff, Alex finished race one over five seconds clear of his nearest rival and only 0.4 seconds behind Tarquini at the end of 26 laps to take win number two of his maiden WTCC season and his eighth podium of the year.
Lining-up seventh overall on the ‘reverse grid’ for round 20, fifth in class, Alex unfortunately slipped back to sixth in the Independents Trophy, 11th overall, on the opening lap but hit back quickly and after moving into the outright top 10 on lap three he then passed Franz Engstler for fifth in class and ninth overall three laps later.
Tight behind Independents rival Aleksei Dudukalo, Alex pressured the SEAT driver for the duration of the 26-lapper but just wasn’t able to carve open an opportunity to make further headway. Running impressively quick lap times again, he took the flag three seconds clear of Tiago Monteiro.
“There aren’t any slow corners on this track where you can overtake on the brakes so you end up just sitting in the train of cars”, said Alex after race two, “I crept slightly on the start so put the clutch back in but spun the wheels and lost about four places. I made two or three back but when I was behind Dudukalo I just couldn’t get by. It’s still been a good weekend, we’ve done a good job.”
The WTCC remains in the Far East for the final two events of the 2012 season with a visit to Shanghai International Circuit in China next on the calendar two weeks from now, 3rd/4th November, ahead of the championship finale in Macau on 17th/18th November.
2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship Driver Standings (after Rd20):
1st Yvan Muller, 345pts; 9th Alex MacDowall, 66pts
2012 FIA WTCC ‘Yokohama Independents Trophy’ Driver Standings (after Rd20):
1st Norbert Michelisz, 136pts; 4th Alex MacDowall, 95pts